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This year’s election includes state legislature candidates for State House and State Senate to represent West St. Paul. Newly redrawn district boundaries divide West St. Paul in half, thanks to this year’s redistricting. The northern half of West St. Paul, roughly, is in District 65 and the southern half in District 53.
We’ve asked the candidates a series of questions to see where they stand on the issues. We’ll share one question and the responses at a time leading up to the general election on November 8. See our 2022 voter’s guide for more.
Previously we asked about top priorities, the budget surplus, working across the aisle, state funding, and the partisan divide. This time we’re asking about representing West St. Paul.
After being divided by redistricting, West St. Paul is now a smaller portion of each district—prompting fears of West St. Paul being ignored. How is West St. Paul different from the rest of the district? How will you address the needs and concerns of West St. Paul residents?
Here are the candidates’ responses:
Candidates for House District 53A
Mary Frances Clardy
West St. Paul has a younger demographic than the rest of the district. As a result the mean income is lower because people’s assets tend to aggregate over time. The average price of a house is lower because the district has a higher proportion of townhouses, condos and starter homes. There is also a higher concentration of multi-family housing.
Given these factors, I would be focused on supporting legislation that created opportunities for first time homebuyers. I would also work to make sure there was enough funding for infrastructure to support the more densely populated parts of the community (i.e. roads, public amenities, and transportation options).
I would listen to the people and understand what they want/need, and take that information to St Paul with me.
The Robert Street commercial district is unique in House 53A so this economic hub is vital for local shopping and employment opportunities. As a candidate I talked with voters during Explore WSP Days activities, our campaign team has door knocked the area, I have met with numerous businesses which included some impromptu town hall meetings with employees, and have participated in the WSP Neighbors group on Facebook.
Once elected I will establish a district office modeled after former Senator Jim Metzen to better serve constituents versus expecting them to meet me in the state capitol offices.
Candidates for Senate District 53
My political career began in West St Paul when my kids attended Heritage Middle School and Kristine and I participated in a parent support network, leading to a run for the school board in 2013. That’s when I learned that West St Paul is a highly politically engaged community, with a great deal of pride in the public school system, and in social justice as it manifests right in our back yards. In my role as DFL property tax lead in the senate, I will continue to champion Local Government Aid reform so that West St Paul can keep up with its infrastructure and public service needs. I will also work to shift the burden of public education funding to a statewide levy to provide local property tax relief.
West St. Paul is very vibrant and diverse community that is also a hot bed for growth and development. I will address the needs of every resident who reaches out to me as an individual. Everyone has a unique situation and concerns that should be addressed as such.
Candidates for House District 65B
Kevin Fjelsted did not respond to our questionnaire.
Having been raised on Stryker and Annapolis, West Saint Paul has been part of my community all my life; just by crossing the street, I would be in Dakota County, with different laws, departments, and schools. I graduated from high school in West Saint Paul while working as a cashier at the West Saint Paul Cub Foods. So, throughout my youth, I learned the history of Forty Acres, played basketball in Harmon Park, rode my bike throughout Robert Street, watched movies at the old Cina 5 Theatres, and shopped at the original Signal Hills shopping center.
While the differences between West Side and West Saint Paul have been ingrained in me from an early age, I am much more interested in discussing ways to build bridges between our neighborhoods. So many of West Saint Paul’s small businesses have persevered throughout a pandemic, and in uplifting and supporting them, we can learn to build more sustainable communities. At the same time, the West Side has led the way in advocacy for renters protections, and we have a unique opportunity to explore cross-pollination in city policy initiatives to improve safety nets for all area residents.
In office, I will continue to build on existing relationships with West Saint Paul elected officials such as Councilmembers John Justen, Robyn Gulley, Wendy Berry, Julie Eastman, and Lisa Eng-Sarne. Through the expansion of a deeply-connected legislative delegation, West Saint Paul will have a greater voice in policy at the Minnesota State Legislature.
Candidates for Senate District 65
Paul Holmgren did not respond to our questionnaire.
I see many similarities. Many WSP folks grew up or lived in St Paul prior to before moving to West St Paul. I see there are also many citizen activists in both cities.
One difference is that WSP is a small city, a close knit community with its own traditions and celebrations. St Paul has some of that too but more in its various neighborhoods.
I will be an active supporter and advocate for the needs of WSP. I’ve already met with city officials and council members to get updates. And I’m hearing from residents as I go door to door
Vote on November 8
The general election is on Tuesday, November 8. Learn more about where and how to vote. You can also vote early with an absentee ballot, either by mail or by stopping at the Dakota County offices.
See our 2022 voter’s guide for more on the candidates and other races.
Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to respond to our questions.
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